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897-poverty-map.jpg

This issue came up recently elsewhere on the internet in response to various initiatives to assist poverty stricken people in third-world nations. Some of the initiatives being discussed were monetary grants and providing simple, low cost, laptops to people. The former always sounds like a good idea, but I don't think there is much evidence of its success and, at least in this country, does more harm long-term than good. The laptop idea...I've never understood.

I made a comment in the discussion that was responded to with much agreement (unusual for the internet) and praise. The comment, and my solution to third-world poverty is:

The single most important thing people need to rise out of poverty is property rights. You can have all the financial assistance and $100 laptops in the world, but if someone (a relative, a neighbor, a warlord, the government, etc.) can come in and take what you have built up away then there will always be poverty. There is an absolute correlation evidencing causation between the existence of well protected property rights and people being able to rise out of poverty and become wealthy. Man will find a way to become prosperous, if that prosperity is protected. Until the governments of poor nations are reformed, every other effort is doomed to failure.

Absent property rights, poverty is not far behind. Take for example second-world communist nations. They can have an incredibly educated populous but are still mired in poverty due to the lack of property rights. People, no matter what nation or background they are from, have near infinite potential. Their ability to make a better life for themselves and their children need only be protected.

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 28 2008

Photo Booth Pictures

Saturday evening Mary and I went to the Petroleum Club for the wedding reception of a friend of Mary's she knows through Kappa Delta. Normally, I'm not a big fan of people running off to some exotic location to get married and then inviting friends to a hometown reception later but, in this instance, it totally made sense. J. Anna and Michael met in Cancun, Mexico, eight years ago and that is where they recently got married. Additionally, he is from New York and she is from Tulsa, so either city would have been difficult for one group of friends or the other to attend.

895-photobooth-kiss.jpg

The reception was beautiful with everything you'd expect at a wedding reception. Additionally, they had a photo booth where guests could get their photos taken. It was a great addition and a hit with young and old alike. After the jump, see a more natural set of poses of Mary and me.

896-photobooth-goofy.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

894-saturday-morning-cartoons.jpg

This is Drew and Will watching early Saturday morning cartoons. It's really too bad our boys don't get along better together.

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 19 2008

Painting with Water

893-boys-painting.jpg

Drew and Will worked on their watercolor painting skills today with their Tonka paint with water books. The images have small dots which contain paint of different colors. A wet brush makes the colored dots dissolve which can then be "painted" to color the picture.

While it sounds easy enough, it's trickier than it seems. Not enough water and the dots don't fully dissolve. Too much water and the paper turns to mush. Not to mention that, even though the paint is pre-colored to match the picture, you still have to stay within the lines for a neat result.

Drew has just about mastered the technique. Will did a surprisingly good job and, along the way, he mastered spilling the "spill-proof" water reservoir.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

890-dell-xps-630.png

I finally broke down and ordered a new computer. We got our old one in the fall of 2001 and while it was still running strong, it was a little slow and unable to handle really demanding programs (*cough* recent *cough* games *cough*...OK, photo and video editing software too). Since last year, I've been researching options, configuring potential systems, watching prices and waiting for new components to come out. Finally, last Friday I found I was able to use multiple discounts on a Dell build of components and options that I really liked. The final price was below even what I could get at a discount parts seller for everything unassembled. I placed the order and, today, our new Dell arrived.

892-intel-e8500.pngThe hardest decision was whether to get it with Windows XP or Vista and whether to get a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system. Long...very long...story short, once we decided that, since we weren't breaking the bank getting the most outrageous options possible, this computer would not have to have a life-span of nearly seven years. XP is sturdy, familiar, faster and more compatible than Vista. Along with many, many others, we'll be skipping Vista entirely and go straight from XP to Windows 7. Since we were staying with XP, I decided we'd also stay with 32-bit as there is simply no compelling reason to jump to 64-bit.

Once the decision was made that the computer wouldn't have to last forever, the choice of what CPU to get was also easier. At similar prices, dual core chips run at a higher clock speed than quad core chips. But, for programs that are optimized to run on multiple cores, the slower clock speed of a quad core CPU is more than made up for by the additions cores so, in theory, a similarly priced quad core is faster than a dual core. In actuality, very few programs are optimized to take advantage of multiple cores. As a result, most programs today, including high end games, run faster on a similarly priced dual core rather than a quad core. I picked out the 3.0GHz E8400 as the optimal performance value in dual cores but to qualify for one of the discounts I had to go with the slightly more expensive E8500. The end result with the E8500 and discount was much cheaper than configured with the E8400.

The final specs on our new Dell:

DELL XPS 630i

- Intel Core2 E8500 (3.16GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 1333 FSB, 45nm)
- 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz, 4 DIMMs
- nVidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB
- 750GB Hard Drive, 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
- Dual Drives: 48x Combo + 16x DVD+/-RW w/ dbl layer
- Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
- 750 watt Power Supply
- Windows XP Professional

I wouldn't have even gone with another Dell except for the fact that they are moving their tech support back to the United States, they are moving away from 891-dell-ultrasharp-2208wfp.pngproprietary hardware and some other reasons such as their implementation of ESA (Enthusiast System Architecture).

In January we replaced our monitor. Our old CRT had grown irreversibly fuzzy. After much research and consideration, we went with a Dell 22" UltraSharp 2208WFP widescreen flat panel monitor (1680 x 1050, 5 millisecond, 1000:1, adjustable height, tilt, swivel and pivot). The quality and design of the monitor is outstanding.

[Update:] Holy cow is this thing fast! I had purposely been keeping my expectations low regarding noticing any speed change except in really demanding tasks. But, everything, from just opening a file to surfing the internet is much much faster. And, I'm not talking about just an incremental increase in speed, everything is faster by an order of magnitude! It's amazing!

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 13 2008

What Is It ???

888-what-is-it-one.jpg

We're clearing out my parents' house (mostly Aunt Donelda is clearing it out) and we came across these two items. (Ignore the USB drive, I just threw it in for a size comparison.) The first item appears to be some type of handle. Maybe something would be attached to the end, except for the fact that there is no indication of any wear anywhere on it. It looks like the end could be used to push something, while the middle portion could hook something.

889-what-is-it-two.jpg

The second item, has what clearly appears to be finger grips on one side and a full length rectangular opening, half way deep, on the other side. We have no clue what either of the items are. Also, there was no evidence they are in any way related or go together.

Anyone have any ideas?

Posted by Don | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (0) |

886-will-fallen-aslsep.jpg

It is very unusual for our munchkins to just fall asleep.

887-will-fallen-aslsep.jpg

But this has been an unusually busy week and tonight after getting ready for bed, Will drank his milk and drifted off.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 8 2008

Brotherly Love

883-feeling-down.jpg

Drew was feeling a little under the weather today and was camped out on the couch with no energy to play. Will noticed that Drew wasn't feeling well and, on his own initiative, climbed up on the couch and over to Drew and gave him a hug.

884-feeling-better.jpg

Will continued to coo and stroke Drew's face until Drew cracked a smile.

885-feeling-grateful.jpg

Drew was happy to be cheered up and gave Will a thank you kiss.

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |

881-emerald-blue-creeping-phlox.jpg

It's officially spring as our backyard garden begins to bloom. First out, the Emerald Blue Creeping Phlox (phlox subulata) shows its stuff.

882-emerald-blue-creeping-phlox.jpg

Creeping Phlox is a beautiful early spring accent for any garden. We have it under all of our Crape Myrtles.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

877-charlton-heston-autograph.jpg

Charlton Heston died yesterday at the age of 84 with his wife of 64 years, Lydia, at his side. I had the immense pleasure of meeting Mr. Heston and his wife in 1991 at an awards ceremony for President Ronald Reagan. Heston was incredibly humble and friendly and, if you didn't known him, you would have been unable to tell him apart from the other attendees. He was a man of unparalleled character and accomplishment.

878-charlton-heston-films.jpg

Heston stared in heroic roles in epic films as Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956); Judah Ben-Hur in Ben Hur (1959), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor; George Taylor in Planet of the Apes (1961), "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"; Robert Neville in The Omega Man (1971); Robert Thorn in Soylent Green (1973); Capt. Matthew Garth in Midway (1976); and 120 other great films.

Heston attended Northwestern University until America was attacked at Pearl Harbor when he voluntarily enlisted in the United States Air Force. Heston was a B-25 radio operator and gunner stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. Like hundreds of others in Hollywood of Heston's generation, he proudly served in our nation's military in stark contrast to todays coddled stars who the USO can't even get to entertain the troops let alone fight along side them.

Heston was admired and respected by Hollywood, serving as the President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1965 to 1971, the second longest tenure to date, and Chairman of the American Film Institute Board of Trustees from 1972 to 1982 and President from 1982 to 1999. In 2003, Charlton Heston was awarded America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

879-poitier-belafonte-heston.jpg

Charlton Heston marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., where King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. (Above photo is Heston with Sidney Poitier and nut-job Harry Belafonte at the 1963 march.) But, Heston's favor with the Hollywood left (redundant?) dwindled when decades later the demand for equal rights which he fought for, became a cry for special rights. Combined with his staunch defense of the Second Amendment in the face of Hollywood's desire to pick and choose what rights apply and to whom, solidified the left's hatred of this great man.

880-from-my-cold-dead-hands.jpg

Heston was President of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003. In 2000, at the 129th NRA convention, Heston proclaimed: "As we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those words again for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Gore: 'From my cold, dead hands!'"

There's no way to do justice to a man like Charlton Heston in a few short paragraphs. However, some insight can gained from his own words. After the jump is a very telling speech he gave to the Harvard Law School Forum February 16, 1999, entitled, "Winning the Cultural War." I strongly encourage you to read it.

"Winning the Cultural War"

Charlton Heston's Speech
to the Harvard Law School Forum
February 16, 1999

I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people."

There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo.

If you want the ceiling re-painted I'll do my best. There always seem to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.

As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: If my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense of liberty of your own freedom of thought...your own compass for what is right.

Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America,"We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that's about to hijack your birthright to think and say what resides in your heart. I fear you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you...the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is.

Let me back up. About a year ago I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. I ran for office, I was elected, and now I serve...I serve as a moving target for the media who've called me everything from "ridiculous" and "duped" to a "brain-injured, senile, crazy old man." I know...I'm pretty old...but I sure as Lord ain't senile.

As I have stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are not the only issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that. I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated. For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr.King in 1963 - long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist. I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe. I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite. Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.

From time to time, friends and colleagues, they're essentially friends from Time Magazine, say how dare you speak your mind. You are using language not authorized for public consumption!" But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys - subjects bound to the British crown.

In his book, "The End of Sanity," Martin Gross writes that "blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly foisted on us from every direction.Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something without a name is undermining the nation, turning the mind mushy when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don't like it."

Let me read a few examples. At Antioch college in Ohio, young men seeking intimacy with a coed must get verbal permission at each step of the process from kissing to petting to final copulation...all clearly spelled out in a printed college directive.

In New Jersey, despite the death of several patients nationwide who had been infected by dentists who had concealed their AIDs --- the state commissioned announced that health providers who are HIV-positive need not...need not...tell their patients that they are infected.

At William and Mary, students tried to change the name of the school team "The Tribe" because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only to learn that authentic Virginia chiefs truly like the name.

In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the rights of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to have separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change surgery.

In New York City, kids who don't speak a word of Spanish have been placed in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely because their last names sound Hispanic.

At the University of Pennsylvania, in a state where thousands died at Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president of that college officially set up segregated dormitory space for black students. Yeah, I know ... that's out of bounds now. Dr. King said "Negroes." Jimmy Baldwin and most of us on the March said "black." But it's a no-no now.

For me, hyphenated identities are awkward...particularly "Native-American." I'm a Native American, for God's sake. I also happen to be a blood-initiated brother of the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife's side, my grandson is a thirteenth generation native American...with a capital letter on "American."

Finally, just last month...David Howard, head of the Washington D.C. Office of Public Advocate, used the word "niggardly" while talking to colleagues about budgetary matters. Of course, "niggardly" means stingy or scanty. But within days Howard was forced to publicly apologize and resign. As columnist Tony Snow wrote: "David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who (a) didn't know the meaning of niggardly,(b) didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the meaning, and (c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance."

What does all of this mean? It means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can't be far behind. Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell me: Why did political correctness originate on America's campuses? And why do you continue to tolerate it? Why do you, who're supposed to debate ideas, surrender to their suppression? Let's be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they really believe? It scares me to death, and should scare you too, that the superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason. You are the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across the land, are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that and abide it...you are - by your grandfathers' standards - cowards.

Here's another example. Right now at more than one major university, Second Amendment scholars and researchers are being told to shut up about their findings or they'll lose their jobs. Why? Because their research findings would undermine big-city mayor's pending lawsuits that seek to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from firearm manufacturers. I don't care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at that, I am shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of unfettered ideas, if not you?

Who will defend the core value of academia, if you supposed soldiers of free thought and expression lay down your arms and plead, "Don't shoot me." If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you a sexist. If you think critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion.

If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe. Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for this rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism.

But what can you do? How can anyone prevail against such pervasive social subjugation? The answer's been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and two hundred thousand people. You simply...disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course. Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don't. We disobey social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom. I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King...who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus, and every other great man who led those in the right against those with the might.

Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that disobedient spirit that tossed tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail, that refused to sit in the back of the bus, that protested a war in Vietnam. In that same spirit, I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous laws that weaken personal freedom.

But be careful...it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to be humiliated...to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs at Montgomery and the water cannons at Selma. You must be willing to experience discomfort. I'm not complaining, but my own decades of social activism have taken their toll on me.

Let me tell you a story. A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called "Cop Killer" celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country were outraged. Rightfully so-at least one had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend. What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer"- every vicious, vulgar, instructional word.

"I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF
I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF
I'M ABOUT TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF
I'M ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF..."

It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyric brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year old nieces of Al and Tipper Gore.

"SHE PUSHED HER BUTT AGAINST MY..."

Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps, one of them said "We can't print that."

"I know," I replied, "but Time/Warner's selling it."

Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warner's, or get a good review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk. When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself...jam the switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your university is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the students graduate with honors...choke the halls of the board of regents. When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets hauled into court for sexual harassment...march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you...petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month...boycott their magazine and the products it advertises.

So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobedience's of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country. If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

I too have a dream, that liberal elitists and race-pimps will join in Martin Luther King's dream and stop focusing on people's skin color.

876-martin-luther-king-jr.jpgWhatever last vestiges of racism that still exist will never be eliminated as long as some people demand double-standards and special (not equal) treatment based solely on race. As long as some I-know-what's-best academic thinks it's OK for them to take race into consideration, there will always be some ignorant racist cracker moron who thinks they too should be allowed to consider one's race.

Only when we all finally join together to recognize that all men are created equal and should be treated equally...without exception...can the dream become a reality. Unfortunately, that won't happen as long as there are those who have more to benefit from the continued existence of racism than from its elimination. That goes double for the self-appointed hyphenated-American spokespeople who benefit more from a devolving sub-culture than from the advancement of the people they claim to represent.

[Image by Denny Dent.]

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

401-taxes.jpgApril 1st, besides being the worst day of the year to surf the internet, it's about the time I sit down to finalize our taxes. There's no sense in doing it any earlier since we either owe a little or will put any overage towards this year's estimated taxes.

I do my taxes the way God intended taxes to be done (that's a joke, God didn't invent taxes...his counterpart did), by hand, on paper, with my trusty HP-15c, written out and filed by mail...zero computers or assistance. If I can't figure it out...I don't have to pay it. Seriously, the idiots that pass the tax laws can't do their own taxes, study after study has shown you can't rely on advise from the IRS...if the day comes that I can't figure out what I owe...then I don't owe anything. At this point I've come to believe that either you are for the Fair Tax, or you don't understand the Fair Tax.

I've never understood people who are happy about getting a big fat tax return. Whenever I hear someone all excited about their tax return I always ask them to loan me $100 a month for the next twelve months and then after sixteen months I'll give them their $1200 back. No one ever takes me up on the offer. I even had one person recently tell me, "Well, that's different." Um...no it's not!

Anyway, please excuse me for the next couple of week if I'm a little less tolerant than polite company should be about certain subjects: taxes, social security, entitlement programs, government spending, government debt, government operation...heck, anything government.

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